“My fight against child marriage is a fight for my community”
Geeta Devi, student, Satya Bharti School, Balial, Sangrur (Punjab)
Parents and community members in the village of Balial were growing concerned with the increasing incidents of eve-teasing and assault on women arising from the prevalence of substance abuse in the village. In this scenario, parents of girls were hesitant to send their daughters to school without an escort. Seeing no immediate solution and sensing an urgency to protect their daughters several parents started withdrawing their daughters from school and worse they began to marry them off at a young age.Parents of young Geeta Devi, student of Satya Bharti Elementary School, Balial were also among this growing group of concerned parents. Upon learning of her parents plans to get her married at the age of 16, Geeta decided to resist this regression.
She tried hard to dissuade her parents from making her quit her education. With truth on her side, she passionately explained the benefits of studying and the unmitigated risks of child marriage.However, her parents’ minds remained swayed by the popular opinion of the community; completely overriding young Geeta’s pleas. She was not disheartened, instead she decided to influence their thought by rallying the support of other girls who were in the same situation.
Geeta mobilized these girls beginning with door-to-door campaigns to create awareness about the benefits of educating girl children. She also organised community discussions where she advocated finding a solution to the root of the problem that of substance abuse, rather than imposing the predicament of child marriage on them.
The girls’ concerted efforts led to Geeta and many more girls going back to school to continue their education uninterrupted. Today not only the girls but even the community has been saved from the various ills that arise from child marriage.
Story sourced by:
Ms. Parminder Kaur,
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